Suddenly Thin Texas Lineup Salvages Point in Shootout Loss to San Antonio

Overcoming adversity has been a key theme for the Texas Stars this season. Call it a cliche, but this group has proven it can rise to the occasion at times. The Stars did it again by pushing for a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Antonio Rampage on Friday evening.

"We're happy to get that point," said head coach Neil Graham. "I knew our guys would go to the final end; unfortunately, we just weren't generating a lot of offensive opportunities.”

The lack of offense was notable in the contest as the Stars have taken a major hit in their top six with various injuries and call-ups--not to mention being down their best offensive blue liner in Emil Djuse. The scoring has just been hard to come by as a result.

“Wasn't our best night,” said Stars forward Rhett Gardner. “There's some things we want to fix going into tomorrow, but to kind of grind through a game like that and not give up and come back to get one point out of it--I think says a lot about our group.”

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

The Stars also lost two points in the standings on Friday as the AHL Board of Governors voted to have the previously cancelled game against the Toronto Marlies rescheduled in Cedar Park at a later date. The game had been forfeited by Toronto after Marlies assistant Rob Davison had a scary health related incident in the locker room.

Taylor Fedun suited up for his first game on a conditioning loan from Dallas and had to knock off some rust as the game went along. He was on the ice when the Rampage scored first and also committed the penalty that led to the go-ahead Rampage goal.

But when the chips were down, Fedun had the primary helper on Mersch’s power play goal that led to the point in the standings. The Stars had emptied their net and went 6-on-4 during the man advantage.

Rampage defenseman Mitch Reinke buried a rebound to open the scoring within the first three minutes of play. Landon Bow left the game three minutes later after consulting with the training staff about an apparent injury that left him hampered enough to continue.

Jake Oettinger slotted in admirably and finished with 36 saves on 37 shots. “It's something you don't really draw up, and I thought Jake handled himself exceptionally well. He gave us a chance to earn a point.” The Rampage fired 49 in total to the Stars 24, a byproduct of the Stars dearth of offensive drivers.

Gardner tied the game nearly halfway through the opening period when Brad McClure found him on a nifty backhand pass from behind the net.

On Fedun’s penalty in the second period, the Stars mishandled the clearing attempt near the crease and Tanner Kaspick made them pay with a backhander over Oettinger’s shoulder near the thirteen minute marker.

Fedun helped right the ship with three minutes left in regulation on Mersch’s power play goal.

Oettinger was strong in net during the overtime frame, making a couple of huge sprawling saves. Unfortunately, the Stars couldn’t score for him in the shootout, and Oettinger was only beaten once to give the Rampage the victory.

“We got to find a way to get some legs and get a little more connected on the ice to give ourselves a better opportunity,” noted Graham.

For Gardner, the recipe is simple for Saturday’s game: get off to a better start. “I think we came out a little flat,” he said. “I think tomorrow we’ll hopefully have a good start in the first and kind of dictate the game from there.”

The Rampage were able to overcome their own baggage they brought into Cedar Park on Friday--coming off a month-long Rodeo road trip after having learned they were purchased by the Vegas Golden Nights and will be relocated to Nevada next season.

Here’s hoping the Stars can start to overcome theirs on the back end of this two-game set.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
MacKay, Cuglietta (scratch)
Mascherin, Caamano, Djuse (injury)
Kiviranta, Robertson (callup)

Tonight’s attendance was 5,292.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - February 14 2020